Frequently asked questions about child support

Jun 30, 2022

Want to know how child custody in Quebec works? Take a look at the Frequently asked questions about child support by Goldwater, Dubé law firm.


How Is Child Support Regulated in Quebec?

If there is one thing that all parents know, it is that children, despite the priceless happiness they bring, are expensive. And child support is there to remind you of that.

In Quebec, child support is very regulated and constitutes a matter of public order: no one can waive it. To set child support when both parents live in Quebec, a standardized form is used that takes into account the income of both parents, the number of children, parental time, and special expenses to arrive at a determined amount. by a scale pre-established by the government.

However, it is sometimes difficult to find your way around.


Do We Have to Pay Child Support?

Yes! If you have a child, you must pay child support if that child does not live with you all the time and you no longer live with the other parent.

However, if your financial means are very limited, if you face excessive constraints, or if you exercise joint custody with the other parent while having a similar income, the amount of child support may be low or nil.

Please note, if you are partially or totally deprived of your parental rights, you nevertheless retain a support obligation towards your child and will have to continue to pay child support for his benefit.


I Have Just Lost My Job, Can I Request a Reduction in the Amount of Child Support?

The law provides that in the event of a significant change in your financial situation, you can appeal to the court to have the amount of child support reduced. The reverse is also true: if your income has increased significantly, your ex may ask for an increase in the child support you pay him.

It is important to note that any change does not automatically lead to a right to the adjustment of the maintenance payment accordingly: it must be a significant and lasting change, such as a loss of employment followed by a long period of unemployment, for example.

It is possible to make this request without going to court in certain situations, thanks to the governmental body Service Administratif de Rajustement des Pensions Alimentaires (SARPA).


What Are Special Expenses and How Can They Be Distinguished From Other Expenses Incurred for Children?

Any money spent on the children is not to be shared with the other parent. Indeed, most of the usual costs are considered to be covered by the child support paid by the other parent. Certain costs, more substantial, are however distinguished and can be shared in proportion to the parents’ income, special costs.

According to case law, these are generally found in three main categories:

(1) Education costs, such as private school or tutoring fees;

(2) Medical, paramedical, and dental expenses not covered by insurance, such as consultations with a psychologist or osteopath;

(3) Expenses for cultural and sporting activities, such as piano or soccer lessons, if these cost a significant amount.

It is possible to dispute certain particular expenses, especially if one of the parents was not consulted before the other incurs the said expenses, nevertheless, it must be remembered that the number one criterion of any family request is the best interest of the child and not the preservation of the parents’ wallet, within reason of course.


The Other Parent Is Not Paying Child Support. Can I Prevent Them from Seeing the Child?

No. This is not a possible or a good remedy to collect child support. If you have a support judgment that requires the other parent to pay child support, you can reach out to Revenu Quebec to see the status of their unpaid child support collection strategies. Revenu Québec manages child support payments. They pursue individuals who fail to obey child support orders. In other words, Revenu Québec collects support from the individual who is supposed to pay it and gives it to the person who is supposed to receive child support.


What happens If You Stop Paying Child Support?

By law, you must comply with a child support order issued by a court. If you don’t, territorial, provincial, and federal laws have many different tools to conduct child support enforcement.

For example, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act (FOAEAA) allows the government to take payments such as employment insurance benefits and income tax refunds from someone who owes child support to pay that financial support. Under the FOAEAA, a Maintenance Enforcement Program has the right to request the suspension or denial of a Canadian passport or certain federal aviation if you have missed three or more payments of child support or owe $3,000 or more.

If you are a federal employee, the government has the right to take part or all of your income to pay any judgment debt you owe, including past-due child support.

There may be other child support enforcement measures under territorial or provincial laws. For example, a court could order you to pay a fine and all the legal costs associated with enforcing the child support order. A court may even order you to serve time in jail if you owe past-due support.


Can a Parent Stop Child Support Payments If the Child Has Turned 18?

No. Turning 18 doesn’t end the child support order by the court or the parent’s child support obligation. For the parent to stop the child support payment, they need a new court decision or a new agreement with the other parent. The special court clerk has to approve the new child support agreement.

However, they can contact a family lawyer who can determine whether the child in question still needs child support and whether the child support payment can be decreased or canceled. Goldwater, Dubé law firm may be able to help. We have helped thousands of families through some of the hardest times; let us try to help you too.

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